Christians are called to Community; however, the Gospels demonstrate that although Jesus loved to be with people, He also clearly relished the time He spent alone. The Holy Spirit, in the same way, delights in silence and solitude as well as community, and longs to bless us with both.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLITUDE AND LONELINESS
Solitude is not to be confused with loneliness. Loneliness is the inner condition of isolation, and can be felt in the middle of a crowd. Loneliness is stressful, a leading cause of depression, and is becoming an increasing problem in modern western society.
Solitude on the other hand is found in internal and external quietness, and is life-enhancing rather than diminishing. Jesus habitually took Himself off to the mountains, or other quiet places to ‘refuel’. The invitation to us to do the same is given in the words to His disciples:
'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place
and get some rest'
And we find that embracing solitude on a regular basis sets us free from the menace of loneliness.
Modern life opposes solitude with its non-stop noise and bustle, and many people wrestle with the fear of silence, afraid to be alone for any length of time. To be truly healthy, we need to be able to be alone with ourselves—and alone with God—without the help of a carefully prepared 'spiritual’ atmosphere. And then we need to listen to the 'still small voice' heard by Elijah [1 Kings 19], bringing healing and direction to our ruffled souls.
We read many stories in Scripture of those who had profound, life-changing encounters with God away from the crowds—often in the desert, the mountains or in the quiet of the night. Away from the distractions of their contemporaries, in the sacred silence, they opened their hearts to the Lord, and came back to the responsibilities and stresses of their lives, empowered and refreshed.
Take a look at some of these scriptures:
To be truly healthy, we need to be able to be alone with ourselves—and alone with God—without the help of a carefully prepared 'spiritual’ atmosphere.
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